New York Live Arts' Festival JAMES BALDWIN THIS TIME! Presents World Premiere of NOTHING PERSONAL Tonight
As part of New York Live Arts' second annual Live Ideas festival, James Baldwin, This Time!, director Patricia McGregor (Katori Hall's Hurt Village, Marcus Gardley's The House That Will Not Stand) and actor Colman Domingo, of Lee Daniel's The Butler and Stew's Passing Strange,present the world premiere of Nothing Personal. This production, which shares the name of the exceptionally powerful 1964 volume by James Baldwin and renowned photographer Richard Avedon, brings the collaboration to life in a wrenchingly original stage adaptation.
Twenty years after attending high school together at Dewitt Clinton in the Bronx (class of 1942) and co-editing the school's literary magazine, Baldwin and Avedon co-created Nothing Personal,exploring how an individual facing the mundane and grotesque realities of modern urban life finds the courage to walk out of the front door and face the world every day. This is the central question of McGregor's Nothing Personal, which uses Baldwin's essay and Avedon's photos as inspiration.
In this staged work, the audience follows the journey of "Jimmy" (Colman Domingo), a Manhattanite trapped by anxiety and disenchantment who has locked himself in his bleak apartment. To pass the time and numb the pain, he flips through the stations of his static black and white television, becoming depressed by the American myth he sees portrayed on the screen. The text and corresponding Avedon images pour out as he shifts from the television to his cluttered desk, to the small window where he looks out on the grim Manhattan night. Out of the cacophony below emerges a street musician whose blues mirror Jimmy's own. Just as his examination of epidemic racism, police brutality, the excesses of privilege and the dangers of institutionalized power are spiraling into a choke hold of paralysis, he thinks of his family. He thinks of loves come and gone. He is reminded that despite the seeming bleakness blanketing the city like a February blizzard, there are moments of connection and kindness that can neutralize the cold. Will these thoughts be enough to counteract the insomnia and feelings of desperate isolation that creep in at four in the morning? Nothing Personal is a searing analysis of the state of our union written in 1964 and devastatingly relevant today.
The production team of Nothing Personal features Sanford Biggers (set designer), Sara Lasley (projection designer), Raul Aktanov (costume designer), and Erik Carter (associate director).
The show will take place tonight, April 23 at 5:00pm and Thursday, April 24 at 8:00pm at New York Live Arts Theater at 219 W 19th Street, New York, NY 10011.
Tickets are $15 and $40 and can be purchased by calling 212-924-0077, visiting newyorklivearts.org/liveideas, or by visiting the box office Monday-Friday 1 - 9pm and Saturday-Sunday 12 - 8pm.
Other theatrical events being staged as part of James Baldwin, This Time! include:
Carl Hancock Rux: Stranger on Earth
A preview of a new work, Stranger on Earth imagines a chance meeting between writer James Baldwin and singer Dinah Washington at a Harlem jazz club in 1963. Drawing from Baldwin's essays including Notes of a Native Son, Nobody Knows My Name and The Fire Next Time--combined with Rux's original dialogue and performed by Rux and Marcelle Davies-Lashley--the work addresses issues regarding race, identity, music and the future of a world both artists are struggling to understand. This showing will include a talk back with the artists.
Date: Saturday, April 26
Tickets: $15, $35
Location: New York Live Arts Theater
Stew on 'Native Song'
In a dynamic and intimate evening, Tony Award (Passing Strange) and Obie Award winning artist Stew will share his creative process and his lifelong journey into the world of Baldwin for his new work Notes of a Native Song. This insightful evening will engage audiences through fragments of work in progress: songs, poems, sermons and projections, using the work of James Baldwin and the locale of Harlem as filters through which to view the role of black artists in America, as well as springboards from which to leap into future questions of black art. Notes of a Native Songinvestigates, at times interrogates, the relationship between art and the black community, and asks what exactly a black American artist owes to this notion of community.
Date: Friday, April 25
Tickets: $15, $35
Location: New York Live Arts Theater
From April 23 to 27, James Baldwin, This Time! at New York Live Arts will present close to twenty events across an array of theater, visual art, dance, video, literature and scholarship featuring such artists as Carrie Mae Weems, Jamaica Kincaid, Charles O. Anderson, Colman Domingo, Fran Lebowitz, Patricia McGregor, Suzan-Lori Parks, Carl Hancock Rux, Stew and Colm Tóibín. The festival inaugurates "The Year of James Baldwin," a city-wide celebration in 2014 - 15 of the continuing artistic, intellectual and moral presence of James Baldwin, on the occasion of what would have been his 90th year. James Baldwin, This Time! is being presented by New York Live Arts as part of "The Year of James Baldwin" in partnership with Harlem Stage and Columbia University School of the Arts Office of Community Outreach and Education. Other collaborators include: The New School and its Vera List Center for Art and Politics; the School of Writing; NYU; and others to be announced as the year progresses.
New York Live Arts is an internationally recognized destination for innovative movement-based artistry offering audiences access to art and artists notable for their conceptual rigor, formal experimentation and active engagement with the social, political and cultural currents of our times. At the center of this identity is Bill T. Jones, Executive Artistic Director, a world-renowned choreographer, dancer, theater director and writer.
New York Live Arts commissions, produces and presents performances in their 20,000 square foot home, which includes a 184-seat theater and two 1,200 square foot studios that can be combined into one large studio. New York Live Arts serves as home base for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, provides an extensive range of participatory programs for adults and young people and supports the continuing professional development of artists. Their influence extends beyond NYC through our international cultural exchange program that currently places artists in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.